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A Louisiana federal judge issued an order lifting President Biden’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal land Tuesday, ruling that the White House did not give any “rational explanation” for implementing the pause.
US District Judge Terry Doughty sided with 13 states in granting a preliminary injunction that applies nationwide. The states challenging the moratorium were Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry hailed Doughty’s ruling as “a victory not only for the rule of law, but also for the thousands of workers who produce affordable energy for Americans.”
Biden implemented the moratorium on Jan. 27 as part of a series of executive orders signed during his first days in office, which included the cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline.
In his ruling, Judge Doughty found that only Congress has the power to pause offshore oil and gas leases and ordered that plans be resumed for delayed lease sales for the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. The judge also agreed with the states’ argument that a pause on oil and gas leases would do “irreparable injury ” by depriving them of revenue and causing massive job losses.
“Millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake,” Doughty wrote. “Local government funding, jobs for Plaintiff State workers, and funds for the restoration of Louisiana’s Coastline are at stake. Plaintiff States have a reliance interest in the proceeds derived from offshore and on land oil and gas lease sales.”
Doughty also agreed with the states that the administration enacted the pause without providing adequate notice or the ability to comment on the policy.
Lawyers for the Biden administration had argued that the lease sales held up by the moratorium aren’t required by law and that the Secretary of the Interior has broad discretion in leasing decisions.
“No existing lease has been cancelled as a result of any of the actions challenged here, and development activity from exploration through drilling and production has continued at similar levels as the preceding four years,” they argued.
The White House had no immediate reaction to the ruling.
With Post wires
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